While the sustainability of healthcare provision is under ever-increasing pressure throughout Europe, the price of medicines is not a major risk for health systems, according to a vote by participants at a Friends of Europe debate in Brussels.
The initial perception of the audience changed after hearing the Oxford-style ‘for’ and ‘against’ debate between Thomas Allvin, Executive Director for Strategy and Healthcare Systems at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Association, and Jo De Cock, CEO of the Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance.
Audience members took part in online polls at the beginning and end of the Sustainability of Healthcare event, on 28 November, which debated the motion: ‘This House believes that the price of medicines is not a major risk for health systems’. The pre-debate vote showed 39% in favour, but after each speaker made their case and took questions, 62% supported it.
Allvin, who presented the case for the motion, said ageing populations, long-term and outpatient care were the factors driving increases in healthcare spending.
“When you take into account all the rebates and discounts in different systems, medicine’s spending growth is lower than healthcare spending growth overall… it’s not what is driving growth,” he said.
Speaking against the motion, De Cock said he “strongly disagreed” that the current system could continue as if it was “business as usual”.
He said there was a lack of transparency in price-setting mechanisms and said confidential agreements [between pharmaceutical companies and payers] “excluded common democratic control”. Analysis also showed also a “disproportion between prices and measurable health benefits,” he said.
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